UW student encampment to disband following deal with university

In a statement, organizers said they didn’t reach all their goals but have made progress, including scholarships for displaced Palestinian students.

Pro-Palestinian protesters link arms and hold a “Free Palestine” sign

Pro-Palestinian protesters link arms and hold a “Free Palestine” sign as a “United for Israel” counterprotest march makes its way through the University of Washington campus. (Genna Martin/Cascade PBS)

Students who have occupied the University of Washington Quad over the past two weeks to protest the Israel-Hamas war reached an agreement with the university on Friday and will be shutting down their encampment.

A news release from the “Popular University for Gaza Liberated Zone” said the agreement reached on Friday morning includes a number of concessions from the university, including:

– Recommendations from their group of people to serve on a UW Board of Regents divestment committee. 

– Scholarships for displaced Palestinian students from Gaza.

– A discussion in a faculty committee about changes to the university’s student abroad program.

– Increased connections with Palestinian universities. 

– More transparency about the university’s investment holdings.

“We are under no illusions that this agreement is a win. The only true win is Palestinian liberation,” the statement from the Liberated Zone said. “Many of our demands remain unfulfilled as the UW has shown clear reluctance to make even the smallest progress towards reducing our complicity in the ongoing genocide in Palestine.”

The group called these “steps toward affecting tangible differences in the lives of Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims in the UW community,” and promised to keep struggling toward Palestinian liberation.

The students said they would voluntarily end the encampment and that the university has agreed to follow its non-retaliation policy toward students, faculty and staff who participated in the encampment.

University President Ana Mari Cauce confirmed the agreement, saying the encampment would be shutting down by 3 p.m. on Monday and that the protesters had agreed they would not reestablish the encampment in the future.

Cauce said the agreement, reached through serious and constructive conversations, is consistent with University values, shared governance and state laws. The copy of the agreement she shared with the University community appears to be the same as the one shared by the students.

The agreement came two days after Cauce strongly chided the protesters for spray-painting graffiti all over campus.

In that same statement, Cauce voiced her support for a ceasefire in Gaza and asked the protesters to take down their tents and come to the table to dialogue with the administration.

She called some of graffiti both antisemitic and violent, “creating an unwelcome and fearful environment for many students, faculty and staff, especially those who are Jewish.”

Since the beginning of the encampment, which has been mostly quiet and peaceful, the students have been pleading with the University to cut ties with Israel and Boeing. They had said they would not leave the Quad until those demands were met.

The students began cleaning up the Quad on Friday afternoon.

Juliette Majid, a United Front member and UW graduate student, said the agreement was not reached because of pressure from the University administration or because of Cauce’s statements and emails from earlier this week. 

“This agreement was reached because it was determined to be reasonable by the community in advancing our movement so that we could continue fighting for Palestinian liberation,” Majid said.

She emphasized that the students weren’t done protesting, just moving in another direction, and they will continue to fight for their original demands.

“We are extremely disappointed that UW refused to make significant steps toward addressing its complicity in the ongoing genocide,” Majid added.

Cauce expressed hope that the university can move on from the protest but continue to make progress toward making the campus a place where all feel safe.

“Over the course of my nearly 40 years at the University, I have always sought to address student concerns through constructive engagement. That is the only way to achieve true, lasting change, and it is consistent with our mission as an educational institution,” Cauce wrote in her statement. 

“I’m pleased to reach this resolution so that our campus can begin to heal – including by coming together for Commencement next month – and so that once again all UW community members, regardless of religion, race or national origin, can live, learn and work without fear.”

This story has been updated to include confirmation and comments from the University and a student comment. Reporter Scarlet Hansen contributed to this story.

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